A BEAUTIFUL BLOG ABOUT CHICP FROM NATURALLY PEACHY

Everyone loves Hummus and no one as much as ChicP founder Hannah McCollum who has turned her passion for hummus into a flourishing business founded on an amazing ethos. Hannah uses only surplus fruit and vegetables to create delicious, healthy and exciting hummus. The UN Food and Agricultural organisation estimate that one third – yes you read that right ONE THIRD of all food produced for human consumption is wasted each year! Much of this is ‘ugly’ fruit or veg that is apparently unfit for human consumption. This is something that we just can’t get our heads round – it all looks the same anyway once it has been juiced, chopped or mashed! Why won’t we  buy a carrot that is a little on a wonky side or a potato that  has a few nobbles, who are we kidding, perfection is over rated anyway, and the crazy thing is that there is nothing wrong with these vegetables apart from aesthetics!…and we thought we were entering the age of equality!

Everyone loves Hummus and no one as much as ChicP founder Hannah McCollum who has turned her passion for hummus into a flourishing business founded on an amazing ethos. Hannah uses only surplus fruit and vegetables to create delicious, healthy and exciting hummus.

The UN Food and Agricultural organisation estimate that one third – yes you read that right ONE THIRD of all food produced for human consumption is wasted each year! Much of this is ‘ugly’ fruit or veg that is apparently unfit for human consumption. This is something that we just can’t get our heads round – it all looks the same anyway once it has been juiced, chopped or mashed! Why won’t we  buy a carrot that is a little on a wonky side or a potato that  has a few nobbles, who are we kidding, perfection is over rated anyway, and the crazy thing is that there is nothing wrong with these vegetables apart from aesthetics!…and we thought we were entering the age of equality!

We applaud entrepreneurs such as Hannah who are doing something about this dire situation…and there is something we can all do to help, starting by supporting amazing brands like ChicP. We spoke to Hannah about how ChicP came about, what consumers can do to help reduce food being thrown away and why she likes to eat her hummus for breakfast, lunch and dinner…. You were previously a private chef, how did you first become interested in cooking and creating new recipes? I went to cookery school where I did lots of experimenting with food and recipes and after that I did a lot of jobs where I was put in the hands of clients and started creating recipes for them. Over time I started to use the left over vegetable dishes that were perfectly good, they were still fresh and delicious, and blend them to  make different dips and all sorts of other dishes from the surplus food. I would cook frittatas and quiches from the left overs and thats where I got the inspiration to create new recipes and be sustainable, to not waste food. What inspired you to create ChicP? I was going home after work every evening from my office job in central London and finding that when I went to the supermarket there was no healthy hummus or anything that had a sustainable touch. I was always going home and turning my leftovers into hummus each evening because that is the only kind of thing I wanted to eat – so I thought there was a gap in the market for something that was healthy using raw vegetables and sustainable. Where did you get the inspiration to use surplus vegetables for your hummus? I was doing a lot of events and could see the amounts of wastage, not just vegetables but steak, fish, cakes…anything you can think of! I then realised that there was a lot of press about vegetables that weren’t being used in supermarkets because of their shape or size and I wanted to do something about it.

We applaud entrepreneurs such as Hannah who are doing something about this dire situation…and there is something we can all do to help, starting by supporting amazing brands like ChicP.

We spoke to Hannah about how ChicP came about, what consumers can do to help reduce food being thrown away and why she likes to eat her hummus for breakfast, lunch and dinner….

You were previously a private chef, how did you first become interested in cooking and creating new recipes?

I went to cookery school where I did lots of experimenting with food and recipes and after that I did a lot of jobs where I was put in the hands of clients and started creating recipes for them. Over time I started to use the left over vegetable dishes that were perfectly good, they were still fresh and delicious, and blend them to  make different dips and all sorts of other dishes from the surplus food. I would cook frittatas and quiches from the left overs and thats where I got the inspiration to create new recipes and be sustainable, to not waste food.

What inspired you to create ChicP?

I was going home after work every evening from my office job in central London and finding that when I went to the supermarket there was no healthy hummus or anything that had a sustainable touch. I was always going home and turning my leftovers into hummus each evening because that is the only kind of thing I wanted to eat – so I thought there was a gap in the market for something that was healthy using raw vegetables and sustainable.

Where did you get the inspiration to use surplus vegetables for your hummus?

I was doing a lot of events and could see the amounts of wastage, not just vegetables but steak, fish, cakes…anything you can think of! I then realised that there was a lot of press about vegetables that weren’t being used in supermarkets because of their shape or size and I wanted to do something about it.

Why is there such a massive amount of surplus veg? It is difficult – a lot of it is to do with supermarket standards and what is seen to be fit. I have visited a lot of farms and been shown what is acceptable and goes through as a ‘class 1’ and that is because of their shape or their size –  the right colour carrots or cucumbers. They are graded a green or an orange and they have to be exactly what the supermarkets require. The ones that are not are taken down a different conveyor belt and are sorted and sent off to to markets and farmers are loosing out on a huge amount of money  that they should be getting for their vegetables whatever shape or size they are . They go to markets and are used for other things but still there is a lot of waste. What can we do as a consumer to help this situation? It is about being more open minded, and stop worrying that our carrots aren’t straight, trying to shop locally and support local farmers. It’s not just about vegetables but what you choose on the menu at restaurants too. It is trying to be sustainable, eating less Beef, trying to eat locally, trying to eat as many vegetables as you can. Maybe have meat twice a week rather than five times a week and just buy less and use what you have got in your cupboards. Also buying local vegetables that are in season rather than ones that have come from miles away.

Why is there such a massive amount of surplus veg?

It is difficult – a lot of it is to do with supermarket standards and what is seen to be fit. I have visited a lot of farms and been shown what is acceptable and goes through as a ‘class 1’ and that is because of their shape or their size –  the right colour carrots or cucumbers. They are graded a green or an orange and they have to be exactly what the supermarkets require. The ones that are not are taken down a different conveyor belt and are sorted and sent off to to markets and farmers are loosing out on a huge amount of money  that they should be getting for their vegetables whatever shape or size they are . They go to markets and are used for other things but still there is a lot of waste.

What can we do as a consumer to help this situation?

It is about being more open minded, and stop worrying that our carrots aren’t straight, trying to shop locally and support local farmers. It’s not just about vegetables but what you choose on the menu at restaurants too. It is trying to be sustainable, eating less Beef, trying to eat locally, trying to eat as many vegetables as you can. Maybe have meat twice a week rather than five times a week and just buy less and use what you have got in your cupboards. Also buying local vegetables that are in season rather than ones that have come from miles away.

What are big supermarkets doing? There are lots of initiatives. Sainsbury’s have got a 2020 plan and Tesco are doing what they can to reduce waste on every level throughout the supply chain . All supermarkets are doing a  better job than they were – there is just still a huge amount to do and it is difficult because it is hard to judge the buyers behaviour. It starts with the packaging and the ordering from the manufacturing level of all foods right down to the consumers plate.  It needs to be judged better and there need to be regulations to prevent food being thrown out at the end of the day because of what it says on the label, as it is usually absolutely fine.  Is it important for you to use locally sourced products and support British farmers? Very – it is what I am trying to do. At the moment I am getting all my vegetables from Spitalfields as I am not making the quantity, but the idea is to grow the business so that I can get all my vegetables from British carrot growers, parsley growers etc. With the bananas and avocados obviously it isn’t possible to buy local, but there are always going to be bruised bananas and avocados in England so that won’t be a problem. Have you always been environmentally minded? I was always the one at school who hated seeing things wasted, I was always turning lights off, saying ‘don’t use too much fairy liquid!’, recycle, recycle! It has always been something that is a big part of me really and that is the reason I wanted to start ChicP, to do something with food that is really sustainable – otherwise I would have never started a food company.   Tell us how you created the brand and developed the products? I started a business plan at work and spoke to so many people about it. I got my friends to trial it then I went to London markets with it, bought all the surplus and then trialled it on friends then came up with names. Finally when I had enough backing around me with people saying I should really do this – I did a big event in London -the first ever Fare Healthy. I was accepted by the organisers who said they really loved the product and they loved what I was doing, so I used that as my first opportunity and it was a great success! This led me on to carry on and develop the brand. I did further branding, loads of developing and getting my name out there. I would go to every event possible , every start up event, with samples to get feedback. Why hummus? It is a really easy product to make and so versatile, I love it, everyone loves it! You can have it with anything and it is an amazing product to eat with every single meal and something people can eat for breakfast and dessert! It can be changed if consumer trends change too. We make a sweet hummus too which is just getting people’s minds round the concept, because chicpeas don’t taste of anything you can really play around with the recipes. When should we eat hummus? It is full of protein so it is actually a really good start to the day. I would happily say, either a normal hummus or a savoury hummus with toast and avocado in the morning, is an extremely healthy breakfast as there is absolutely no sugar. Alternatively the sweet hummus has banana and avocado and  is a really yummy healthy chocolatey hummus as there is no refined sugar and it is full of energy. Otherwise for lunch, as a side, as a snack. I mix it in to pasta , have it in meat or in sandwiches. I use it in every meal!

What are big supermarkets doing?

There are lots of initiatives. Sainsbury’s have got a 2020 plan and Tesco are doing what they can to reduce waste on every level throughout the supply chain . All supermarkets are doing a  better job than they were – there is just still a huge amount to do and it is difficult because it is hard to judge the buyers behaviour. It starts with the packaging and the ordering from the manufacturing level of all foods right down to the consumers plate.  It needs to be judged better and there need to be regulations to prevent food being thrown out at the end of the day because of what it says on the label, as it is usually absolutely fine.

 Is it important for you to use locally sourced products and support British farmers?

Very – it is what I am trying to do. At the moment I am getting all my vegetables from Spitalfields as I am not making the quantity, but the idea is to grow the business so that I can get all my vegetables from British carrot growers, parsley growers etc. With the bananas and avocados obviously it isn’t possible to buy local, but there are always going to be bruised bananas and avocados in England so that won’t be a problem.

Have you always been environmentally minded?

I was always the one at school who hated seeing things wasted, I was always turning lights off, saying ‘don’t use too much fairy liquid!’, recycle, recycle! It has always been something that is a big part of me really and that is the reason I wanted to start ChicP, to do something with food that is really sustainable – otherwise I would have never started a food company.

 

Tell us how you created the brand and developed the products?

I started a business plan at work and spoke to so many people about it. I got my friends to trial it then I went to London markets with it, bought all the surplus and then trialled it on friends then came up with names. Finally when I had enough backing around me with people saying I should really do this – I did a big event in London -the first ever Fare Healthy. I was accepted by the organisers who said they really loved the product and they loved what I was doing, so I used that as my first opportunity and it was a great success! This led me on to carry on and develop the brand. I did further branding, loads of developing and getting my name out there. I would go to every event possible , every start up event, with samples to get feedback.

Why hummus?

It is a really easy product to make and so versatile, I love it, everyone loves it! You can have it with anything and it is an amazing product to eat with every single meal and something people can eat for breakfast and dessert! It can be changed if consumer trends change too. We make a sweet hummus too which is just getting people’s minds round the concept, because chicpeas don’t taste of anything you can really play around with the recipes.

When should we eat hummus?

It is full of protein so it is actually a really good start to the day. I would happily say, either a normal hummus or a savoury hummus with toast and avocado in the morning, is an extremely healthy breakfast as there is absolutely no sugar. Alternatively the sweet hummus has banana and avocado and  is a really yummy healthy chocolatey hummus as there is no refined sugar and it is full of energy. Otherwise for lunch, as a side, as a snack. I mix it in to pasta , have it in meat or in sandwiches. I use it in every meal!

TO READ THE REST OF THIS BLOG, HEAD TO THE BLOG PAGE ON THE NATURALLY PEACHY WEBSITE BY CLICKING HERE 

TO READ THE REST OF THIS BLOG, HEAD TO THE BLOG PAGE ON THE NATURALLY PEACHY WEBSITE BY CLICKING HERE 

My ChicP interview with Goodness Guru

Isa from Goodness Guru approached me to talk about the ins and outs of starting a food business...

I hope the below is helpful to anybody starting up in the food industry. 

 

What came first the food waste or the hummus?

The food waste…. The only reason I started ChicP was because I was creating hummus and dips from leftovers and tired of seeing huge amounts of food wasted at all the food events I was working at, as well as seeing it in high street chains at the end of the day.

 

When did you first have the idea for Chic P?

I was working in Central London in a lovely office job but got tired of not being satisfied by what I was doing. I have always been passionate about sustainability and food waste and with this job, there was nothing sustainable, in fact it was quite the opposite.

I was going home in the evenings and turning leftovers into hummus. There was never a supermarket hummus that I really enjoyed buying and I realised that there were no dip brands offering a sustainable solution as well as being healthy. ChicP hummus has half raw vegetables which means that it has half the amount of fat to normal hummus, not to mention that the vegetables are all class 2 and/or from surplus!

 

How did you go about scaling up production from in your kitchen to a factory?

This was one of my biggest challenges. It took me months to find a manufacturer. I started developing with one but then had to find someone else due to minimum order quantities. It requires a lot of ringing around, patience and asking people in all areas of the food industry. Finally, one recommendation got me to where I am now, however they still have minimum order quantities so I am continually doing lots of events at weekends and trying to find more stockists in order to make sure I sell all the hummus I produce each week. If I can’t, I donate some to food charities.

 

How did you undergo the process of meeting with stockists?

It is different for every stockist but normally it is a case of finding out who the buyer is for each retailer and getting in contact. I advise you to be well prepared - know everything about your product, try and be as retail ready as possible and know your prices.

 

What’s been the biggest challenge in starting your own business?

Finding a manufacturer and my short shelf life. I am still struggling with the shelf life! Being a chilled product is not easy...

 

What’s been the most rewarding part of running your own business?

Seeing it grow from one step to the next has been satisfying and it’s very rewarding to see the hummus now in all the top London Independents, especially Wholefoods. Getting to this stage and no longer making the hummus myself is a huge weight off my shoulders… however, there are just as many challenges in different areas!

 

What tips do you have for maintaining a good work / life balance?

I believe that it is hugely important to keep a balance between your work life and having a social life. This was something I made sure of when I started ChicP. I work very hard but still make sure I see my friends during the week - luckily ChicP is a relatively social business so I can have quite a bit of fun at weekends if I’m doing events.

It is easy to get sucked to your work but try and say yes to social things and get up earlier the next morning or work later the following evening if you need to catch up.

This goes the same with exercise - I will always try and make time in the day to exercise and the joy of working for myself means that if I need a break in the middle of the day, I can jump outside and go on a run.

 

What is the health motto you live by?

Work hard, play hard.

 

What is your guilty pleasure?

Ooooh tricky one… I have a massive sweet tooth, so anything sweet. Normally homemade cake or nut butters and chocolate.

 

What advice would you give to someone looking to start a food business?

I would advise them to really really research the market first to make sure that if they are sure about their idea, it is different from anything else out there in their category. There is a huge amount of competition and the shelves are becoming more saturated so if it doesn’t have strong USP’s, it’s going to be difficult to reach those shelves. Sustainability is also a key factor in 2017…

 

 

 

 

 

 

From Root to Stem

FROM ROOT TO STEM

2016,

This blog was written by Isabella Florence. Isabella kindly offered to write about the Root to Stem trend which is what ChicP thrives upon. She is a keen sustainable foodie and has a great blog. Check it out here: www.concealerandkale.com

Have you ever looked in your bin half way through peeling and chopping your ingredients for dinner and thought “mmm, that looks delicious?” No, neither have I. But here’s why one fast spreading food trend of 2016 – “root to stem” cooking - is about to show us why we’re wrong.

Where does it all come from?

Last year we saw innovative chefs beginning to use what most people would consider sad, old vegetable scraps destined for the rubbish to create fresh, exciting and delicious plates of food. The idea behind this thrifty way of cooking developed from the popular and longstanding “nose to tail” approach to meat, which aims to use every part of an animal (hopefully not actually the nose though, because that sounds gross). Whilst taking that idea and applying it to fruits and vegetables came from a curiosity in the kitchen about flavours and textures, rather than a need to use scrappy bits up, it does have an undeniable effect on waste.

Food waste? Really?

Food waste is a major issue. We throw away 7 million tonnes of food and drink a year, much of which we could probably have eaten. When we buy vegetables from supermarkets (rather than farmer’s markets) we’re buying something that’s been tidied up and trimmed down to make it easy to cook and easy to prepare. As supermarket’s pump out perfect carrot after perfect carrot we lose our awareness of what real vegetables look like and what to do with the whole vegetable. So if we are presented with a sprouty green carrot top we have no idea what to do with it, and straight in the bin it goes!

What is it all about? 

Root to stem cooking is showing us that there’s still goodness and flavour in those odds and ends. The obvious option is to use the leftovers to make stock, but there’s only so many litres of vegetable stock my freezer can hold and in all honesty I’ll probably never defrost it and use it because I find defrosting things one of the most painful kitchen tasks known to man. With this in mind, I looked around to find some more exciting recipes using the skins, tops and any other left over bits of the veggies we usually have at home.

Some tips to cook? 

You know that woody, knobbly bit on a broccoli? Turns out you can totally eat it and it’s yummy! It tastes much more delicate and subtle than it looks. Once you’ve sliced off the tough bits and outside skin, it works well sliced finely in to ribbons with a peeler and dressed with some olive oil, lemon juice, parmesan and pepper.

You could also try using fennel stalks as a bed for fish if you’re steaming or baking it in foil, which will fragrance it with a beautiful fennel flavour. Chuck in a few capers and you’re good to go! Or add the delicious, peppery raw leaves of a cauliflower to a salad to mix it up. If you’re not in to that you could also steam them lightly, as you would kale, and enjoy a big nutritious pile of them as a side dish.

You can even jazz up those boring potato skins by frying them in oil until crispy and serving with a sprinkle of salt and some flavoured hummus or a fresh guacamole for dipping.

Whilst we don’t all have to start pickling rinds and trying to make soup out of onion skins, simply using up a whole broccoli or cauliflower when we buy one would be a step in the right direction. Here’s hoping that this changing way we view our veg will filter down to the supermarkets and result in more “real” and natural looking food on the shelves!

 

                                                                                           Isabelle Florence

About Climate Change

This post is from Zen Habits Journal - I have chosen 3 of his points that go hand in hand with ChicP's ethos. He states that these individual choices are all small measures but you may as well start now...

1. You’re better off eating vegetables from Argentina than red meat from a local farm.

Eating local is lovely, but most carbon emissions involving food don’t come from transportation — they come from production, and the production of red meat and dairy is incredibly carbon-intensive.

Emissions from red-meat production come from methane, a potent greenhouse gas. Experts disagree about how methane emissions should be counted in the planet’s emissions tally, but nearly everyone agrees that raising cattle and sheep causes warming that is an order of magnitude morethan that from raising alternate protein sources like fish and chicken (the latter of which have the added benefit of creating eggs).

According to researchers at Carnegie Mellon, a typical household that replaces 30 percent of its calories from red meat and dairy with a combination of chicken, fish and eggs will save more carbon than a household that ate entirely local food for a full year.

Yes, eating nothing but locally grown fruits and vegetables would reduce your carbon footprint the most. But for people not ready to make that leap, reducing how much meat you eat matters more than going local.

2. Eat everything in your refrigerator.

Scientists have estimated that up to 40 percent of American food is wasted — which amounts to almost 1,400 calories per person every day. Food waste occupies a significant chunk of our landfills, adding methane to the atmosphere as it decomposes. Even more important, wasted food adds to the amount of food that needs to be produced, which is already a big part of our carbon load.

How can you waste less? For food shopping, plan out meals ahead of time, use a shopping list and avoid impulse buys. At home, freeze food before it spoils. If you find yourself routinely throwing prepared food away, reduce portion sizes.

3. Buy less stuff, waste less stuff. 

It’s not just car manufacturing that adds to carbon emissions. Other consumer goods can have a huge impact: Making that new MacBook Proburns the same amount of carbon as driving 1,300 miles from Denver to Cupertino, Calif., to pick it up in person.

At the other end of the product life cycle, reducing waste helps. Each thing you recycle is one fewer thing that has to be produced, and reduces the amount of material that ends up in landfills. But the recycling process consumes energy as well, so — depending on the material — it may not be as helpful as you might think. Recycling a magazine every day for an entire year saves less carbon than is emitted from four days of running your refrigerator.

It’s better not to consume the raw materials in the first place, so you may want to think carefully about whether you’re really going to use something before you buy it.

Of course, these individual choices are all small measures.

A sustainable solution that avoids severe damage to the planet will require fundamental changes in the global energy system: transitioning from fossil fuels to renewable energy and sharply reducing the number of cars that run on internal-combustion engines.

Advocating public policies that support the development of clean energy and efficient transportation is probably the most climate-friendly thing you can do. But cultural and behavioral change can be part of the solution as well. Might as well start now.

Waste Not Want Not - Our article with Clean & Lean

We throw away 7 million tonnes of food and drink from our homes every year, the majority of which could have been eaten. We think this seasonal celebration is the time to start making an effort to waste less and appreciate more.

Clean and Lean is all about being kind to yourself. We need to apply this to the way we think of environment too. It is very easy to forget the journey our food has been on before it has reached our plate. Thinking about the work, time and money involved in each item in our fridge, it might makes us reconsider the amount we throw into the bin.

Farmers all over the country work hard all year round to provide us with fresh fruit and vegetables. Before they’ve even reached the supermarkets, thousands of tons are rejected because of their shape and size because they fail “cosmetic standards”. This is hugely detrimental to our farmers. So much delicious produce is thrown away simply because it doesn’t ‘look good enough’.

The cost of throwing away wasted food is expensive and is harming ourenvironment. More fuel is needed to transport the waste and the vast amount of food that is going to landfill is contributing to global warming

The sad thing is most of the food that is wasted in the UK(4.1 million tons or 61%) is avoidable and could have been eaten had it been better managed.

ChicP’s top tips on ‘How To Waste Less’:

  • Sell by dates are merely a guide, food can be eaten days after. Do not throw away food because it is the ‘due’ date. Taste, smell and if it seems fine, it will be perfectly edible!
  • When buying food, think about the week that lies ahead. Big weekly shops often means half the food ends in the bin. Buying daily or every other day is much more economical, environmental and often more beneficial for your health as the food is fresher.

My tips on what to do with food that is going off:

  • I absolutely love making dips from meals that I have cooked the day before. If I don’t want the same roast vegetables and feta again, I’ll blend them into a creamy dip and eat with raw vegetable sticks and delicious healthy crackers.
  • You can also whiz up a soup with all the leftovers.
  • If you’re cooking chicken, I like to roast a whole chicken – it goes much further! Then make a stock from the bones for a soup the next day.
  • I hardly ever go to the supermarket; I often buy from farmers markets in London – you can get large quantities of vegetables and fruit in bowls for £1.
  • Baking is another great way to use up ingredients. Bananas, pears, carrots and other vegetables, as well as nuts, seeds, flours or oils you may be trying to get rid of can all be mixed together to create a healthy smoothie,  breakfast bar, or sweet treat. Get creative.
  • If you really don’t want to eat your mouldy avocados, mash them up with some coconut oil and make a face or hair mask.

Daniella Isaacs
Instagram: @daniellaisaacs

https://cleanandlean.com/waste-not-want-not/